Encuentra tu próximo/a libro favorito/a

Conviértase en miembro hoy y lea gratis durante 30 días
1914: A Novel

1914: A Novel

Leer la vista previa

1914: A Novel

valoraciones:
4/5 (4 valoraciones)
Longitud:
90 página
55 minutos
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jan 7, 2014
ISBN:
9781595589248
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Five Frenchmen go off to war, two of them leaving behind a certain young woman who longs for their return. But the main character in 1914 is the Great War itself. Jean Echenoz, the multi-award-winning French literary magician whose work has been compared to Joseph Conrad and Lawrence Sterne, has brought that deathtrap back to life, leading us gently from a balmy summer day deep into the insatiable—and still unthinkable—carnage of trench warfare.

With the delicacy of a miniaturist and with irony both witty and clear-eyed, the author offers us an intimate epic with the atmosphere of a classic movie: in the panorama of a clear blue sky, a biplane spirals suddenly into the ground; a tardy piece of shrapnel shears the top off a man's head as if it were a soft-boiled egg; we dawdle dreamily in a spring-scented clearing with a lonely shell-shocked soldier strolling innocently to a firing squad ready to shoot him for desertion.

But ultimately, the grace notes of humanity in 1914 rise above the terrors of war in this beautifully crafted tale that Echenoz tells with discretion, precision, and love.
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jan 7, 2014
ISBN:
9781595589248
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Jean Echenoz (Orange, 1948). En el Salon du Livre de París de 1988, fue galardonado con el Premio Gutenberg como "la mayor esperanza de las letras francesas"; asimismo, en una encuesta realizada por Le Nouvel Observateur, fue elegido el novelista internacional más relevante de la década de los noventa. Ha obtenido también los premios Goncourt, Médicis, European Literary Prize y Premio Novembre.

Relacionado con 1914

Libros relacionados

Vista previa del libro

1914 - Jean Echenoz

Interest

I

SINCE THE WEATHER WAS SO inviting and it was Saturday, a half day, which allowed him to leave work early, Anthime set out on his bicycle after lunch. His plans: to take advantage of the radiant August sun, enjoy some exercise in the fresh country air, and doubtless stretch out on the grass to read, for he’d strapped to his bicycle a book too bulky to fit in the wire basket. After coasting gently out of the city, he lazed easily along for about six flat miles until forced to stand up on his pedals while tackling a hill, sweating as he swayed from side to side. The hills of the Vendée in the Loire region of west-central France aren’t much, of course, and it was only a slight rise, but lofty enough to provide a rewarding view.

As Anthime reached the crest of that eminence, a rowdy gust of wind came up abruptly, almost carrying off his cap, and then buffeted his bicycle, a solid Euntes¹ he’d bought off a vicar now stricken with gout. Air currents that sudden, loud, and forceful in their onrush are rather unusual in that area in midsummer, especially on such a sunny day, and Anthime had to steady himself with one foot on the ground and the other on its pedal, with the bicycle slightly inclined beneath him, as he settled his cap firmly on his head in the whistling wind. Then he looked around at the countryside: a sprinkling of villages, an abundance of fields and pasturelands. Invisible yet also there, twelve or so miles to the west, breathed the ocean, on which Anthime happened to have ventured out some four or five times, occasions on which he had not been much help to his comrades, having no idea how to fish, although as an accountant, he had felt equipped to take on the always welcome responsibility of tallying up the mackerel, whiting, plaice, brill, and other flatfish back at the dock.

On that first day of August, standing alone on the hill, Anthime let his gaze linger over the panorama, taking in the five or six small market towns scattered below: clusters of low houses congregated around a belfry, linked by a slender network of roads on which the few automobiles were far outnumbered by oxcarts and draft horses hauling harvested grain. It was certainly a pleasant landscape, albeit one temporarily disrupted by that noisy, truly unseasonable eruption of wind rampaging everywhere within earshot, which forced Anthime to keep clutching his cap. The rushing air was all one could hear. It was four in the afternoon.

As Anthime glanced idly from one town to another, he noticed a phenomenon he’d never seen before. Atop every one of the belfries at the same moment, something had been set in motion, and this movement was tiny but steady: a black square and a white one, each following the other every two or three seconds, had begun regularly switching places like an alternating light, a binary blinking reminiscent of the automatic valves on certain machines back at the factory. Anthime watched but did not understand these mechanical pulses that seemed like trip levers, or winks launched from afar by a series of strangers.

Then, as abruptly as it had begun, the pervasive rumbling of the wind suddenly gave way to the noise it had masked until that moment: up in those church towers, the bells had in fact begun tolling all together, ringing out in a somber, heavy, and threatening disorder in which Anthime, although still too young to have attended many funerals, instinctively recognized the timbre of the tocsin, rung only rarely, the image of which had reached him separately before its sound.

The tocsin, given the world situation at the time, could mean only one thing: mobilization. Like everyone else but not taking the idea very seriously, Anthime had been rather expecting this, although he would never have imagined it happening on a Saturday. He listened quietly for less than a minute to the bells solemnly jostling one another, then straightened his bike and pushed off again, coasting all the way down the hill before turning toward home. Unnoticed by Anthime, his big book went sailing off the bicycle after a stiff bump, opening as it fell to lie forever alone at the roadside, facedown on the chapter entitled Aures Habet et non Audiet.²

Entering the town, Anthime began to see people leaving their houses to gather in groups before converging on the Place Royale. The men seemed excited, on edge in the heat, turning to call to one another, gesturing broadly but with seeming confidence. Anthime dropped off his bicycle at home before joining the general movement now flowing in from every direction toward the main square, where a smiling crowd milled around waving bottles and flags, gesticulating, dashing about, leaving barely enough space for the horse-drawn vehicles already arriving laden with passengers. Everyone appeared well pleased with the mobilization in a hubbub of feverish debates, hearty laughter, hymns, fanfares, and patriotic exclamations punctuated by the neighing of horses.

Across the square and beyond that animated throng red-faced with sweat and fervor, Anthime spotted Charles on the corner of the Rue Crébillon, by a silk merchant’s shop, and tried at a distance to catch his eye. Unsuccessful in this, he began making his way toward him through the crowd. Apparently remaining aloof from events, dressed as in his office at the factory in a close-fitting suit and a narrow, light-colored tie, Charles considered the crush of people without any visible emotion, wearing his Rêve Idéal camera from Girard & Boitte slung around his neck, as usual. Advancing toward him, Anthime had to steel and calm himself at the same time, a paradoxical yet necessary procedure he followed to master the intimidating uneasiness he felt in the presence of Charles, no matter what the occasion. The other man faced him for barely a second before looking down at the signet ring Anthime wore on his pinkie.

Hmm, said Charles, that’s new. And you’re wearing it on your right hand, well, well. They’re usually worn on the left. I know, agreed Anthime, but it isn’t a question of style, it’s because my wrist hurts. Indeed, said Charles condescendingly, and it doesn’t bother you when you shake someone’s hand. I shake so few hands, observed Anthime, and as I told you, it’s for those pains I get

Has llegado al final de esta vista previa. ¡Regístrate para leer más!
Página 1 de 1

Reseñas

Lo que piensa la gente sobre 1914

4.0
4 valoraciones / 9 Reseñas
¿Qué te pareció?
Calificación: 0 de 5 estrellas

Reseñas de lectores

  • (4/5)
    I assume that a 100 page novella isn't expected to have a lot of depth and development of characters. The work, however, did provide an interesting insight into the futile aspects of war in general, and specifically pertaining to WWI. Would recommend this quick read for history enthusiasts.
  • (4/5)
    This little book was a great read and informative for me as it told a tale of what life was like for some Frenchman entering World War I at the very beginning of the war. I was intrigued to find that these men expected to return home in two or three weeks. It was to be over that quick as far as they were concerned. Those who lived and did return home often arrived without an arm, or blind or some other wretched disfigurement. I give the book four stars. It is a quick read and well worth the detour.
  • (4/5)
    1914, by French author Jean Echenoz begins, predictably enough, in August of 1914, as Anthime, out to enjoy the day with his bicycle and a book, hears the tocsin being rung from every church bell in the countryside. He rides home to find that war has broken out and so he enlists although, unlike the others, he doesn't think that it will all be over in a few weeks.There is nothing here that anyone with a passing knowledge of the First World War will be surprised by, but the vividness with which Echenoz describes the life of a soldier in the trenches certainly drives the futility and inhumanity of this war home. And that seems to be the point of this slender novel in which men die or are injured in all the expected ways and those who survive are not always able to pick their lives up where they had left them when they marched off, full of patriotism.
  • (5/5)
    Award-winning author Jean Echenoz's novel, 1914, was first published in French two years ago with an even shorter title, just 14. It seems appropriate that this able English translation by Linda Coverdale, just published this year, marks the 100th anniversary of that infamous year that marked the beginning of the Great War, also called "the war to end war." No such luck, of course. Here we are a hundred years hence and wars raging all over the globe. It seems man never learns anything from past mistakes.It also seems more than coincidence that, while reading 1914, I happened to catch on late night TV, COMING HOME, the 1978 film about the Vietnam War, a movie about the lingering physical, psychological and emotional effects of that war, and how it destroyed lives and wrecked marriages and families.Although the wars of Hal Ashby's Oscar-winning film and Echenoz's heartbreakingly brief novel were separated by fifty years or more, the two works both managed to convey the utter senselessness of war and its random destruction of innocent lives. 1914 gives us the story of a small group of French soldiers - four friends and the aloof brother of one of them - and one girl that was left behind, 'in trouble.'1914 is, I think, the first novel of the Great War that I've read that is written from the French point of view, and with French soldiers as the unwilling 'heroes'. These men are poorly trained and kept mostly ignorant, and the omniscient narrator (who often displays a dark gallows sense of humor) notes that soon after the war began, the high command was careful to supply plenty of wine to the troops, "increasingly convinced that inebriating its soldiers helped bolster their courage and, above all, reduce their awareness of their condition." A condition characterized by filth, rats, lice and all manner of unpleasantness that was part of trench warfare.All of the soldiers eventually began to hope for "the good wound," the one that wouldn't kill you but would invalid you back home. The protagonist, Anthime, got one of these, losing his right arm to shrapnel. And even at that, he is perhaps the luckiest of all the characters here.The Ardennes, the Somme. These infamous battles of the war are mentioned only briefly, but the four friends were there. They 'adapted' or they died.The story seems especially significant that, in the opening scene of the book, Anthime, a shoe factory accountant, is bicycling blissfully into the spring countryside on a Saturday to picnic and read - a fat Victor Hugo book, NINETY-THREE, a novel about the French Revolution. Like Echenoz's book, a title with only a number, a year in a war. Interrupted by tolling bells of mobilization, he never does read that book. And yet, despite the unremitting and random horror of the war depicted here, the closing lines of the book suggest at least the possibility of new beginnings. Probably not a "happily-ever-after" kind of thing, but the tiniest suggestion that maybe something good can still be rescued from the wreckage.1914 will, I am sure, take its rightful place in the ever-growing pantheon of anti-war books. With its short choppy chapters, by turn humorous and horrific, 1914 packs a powerful emotional punch, one that will resonate with thoughtful readers for a long time. Highly recommended.
  • (3/5)
    A tightly written and effecting novella about the impact of war on a small group of young men in France. The brief, vivid descriptions of the horrors of war are well-done but less impactful than the quieter, less shocking moments Echenoz describes. A rewarding read for a lazy afternoon.
  • (3/5)
    A lean, somber and poignant novella translated from the French.
  • (4/5)
    A quiet, haunting, elegantly written novella that despite its brevity captures the optimism, horror, boredom, despair, absurdity, and consequences of war. Echenoz does not linger on any one aspect too long, yet the reader feels deeply the effects of each and every aspect. In a few succinct scenes, Echenoz paints vivid pictures of home, of the trenches and bombardment, of the early days of the aerial war, of mud and cold, of rigid bureaucracy, of greedy suppliers, of survivors. One quote in particular lingers in my memory--Well, you don't get out of this war like that [by walking away]. It's simple: you're trapped. The enemy is in front of you, the rats and lice are with you, and behind you are the gendarmes. Since the only solution is to become an invalid, you're reduced to waiting for that "good wound," the one you wind up longing for, your guaranteed ticket home, but there's the problem: it doesn't depend on you. So that wonder-working wound, some men tried to acquire it on their own without attracting too much attention, by shooting themselves in the hand, for example, but they usually failed and were confronted with their misdeed, tried, and shot for treason. Mowed down by your own side rather than asphyxiated, burned to a crisp, or shredded by gas, flamethrowers, or shells--that could be a choice. But there was also blowing your own head off, with a toe on the trigger and the rifle barrel in you mouth, a way of getting out like any other--that could be a choice too.
  • (4/5)
    The latest novel by Echenoz opens in the Vendée region of France, as a lazy and quiet Saturday afternoon in August 1914 is interrupted by the insistent pealing of church bells throughout the region, which signals a call for mobilization for the impending war against Germany. The novel focuses on five ordinary men in one village, and a young woman who loves one man and is fond of another. The men and their commanding officers are convinced that the combat will last no longer than a few weeks, and that all will return home safely. However, as weeks turn into months and months into years, and as the soldiers see their companions felled in action, they are transformed into dispirited men who rely on alcohol to dull their senses. Echenoz writes poignantly about their seemingly hopeless circumstances:Well, you don't get out of this war like that. It's simple: you're trapped. The enemy is in front of you, the rats and lice are with you, and behind you are the gendarmes. Since the only solution is to become an invalid, you're reduced to waiting for that “good wound”, the one you wind up longing for, your guaranteed ticket home, but there's a problem: it doesn't depend on you. So that wonder-working wound, some men tried to acquire it on their own without attracting too much attention by shooting themselves in the hand, for example, but they usually failed and were confronted with their misdeed, tried, and shot for treason. Mowed down by your own side rather than asphyxiated, burned to a crisp, or shredded by gas, flamethrowers, or shells—that could be a choice. But there was also blowing your own head off, with a toe on the trigger and the rifle barrel in your mouth, a way of getting out like any other—that could be a choice too.The lives of the five men are all irrevocably altered by the war, in different ways. However, Echenoz shows us that the trauma of war is not limited to those who have experienced combat, or have had their homes or livelihoods taken away from them. Many seem to lose their basic sense of humanity by taking advantage of their countrymen in battle, overcharging them for food or drink as they march through villages, or supplying them with overpriced, shoddily made equipment.1914 is a quiet and elegantly written novella about the effects of The Great War on a group of ordinary men and citizens of a small French town, whose power comes not from grisly descriptions of combat, but in the benumbed despair that afflicts everyone in its midst. The book is greatly enhanced by notes from the book's translator, Linda Coverdale. Although this book doesn't match my favorite ones by Echenoz, it was still a very enjoyable read.
  • (4/5)
    Very short novella, about five men from the same French village going to war in the Great War (***). Echenoz is a famous French writer, who apparently can afford to write such short novels and still receive lots of acclaim. My feeling after reading it, was that I still don’t know why Echenoz is great in France. I still haven’t heard his voice loud and clear in a manner that will allow me to recognize his writing elsewhere. I can see he works with humour. I can see he’s typically French in the sense that he writes in long sentences, that aim to mesmerise. The most witty and memorable section of this short novel is the part where he writes about animals in the Great War. He writes about dogs even forgetting their names in no man’s land, about pigeons being ‘promoted to the rank of courier’, and about ‘all sorts of die-hard parasites that, not content with offering no nutritional value whatsoever, on the contrary themselves feed voraciously on the troops’(lice). The story line is thin and straight forward. Of the five men, two are brothers that play a key role in the shoe factory. Both are in love with the beautiful daughter of the owner. The most wealthy, successful brother is supposed to be kept out of the firing line, a transfer being arranged to get him into the air force. The latter however proves unusually lethal. The other bro gets his right arm chopped off by shrapnel and returns home, to the daughter who has given birth to a girl of his deceased brother. They end up together forming a family of sorts. The others die except for one guy who gets out deaf and cripple. Another nugget of the novel is Echenoz’ descriptions of the horror of the war, the war winning, etc. Nice, but too short…